“Things Worth Dying For:The Nature of a Life Worth Living”

This lecture was delivered, by our Archbishop, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap,  for the Constitutional Studies Program at the University of Notre Dame.

I want to thank Dr. Muñoz, Father Jenkins, and the Napa Institute Forum for welcoming me to Notre Dame today – and you, for being here.  The fact that anyone would turn out for a talk with the word “dying” in the title, especially on the eve of an SC game, proves that miracles still happen.

I turned 75 a couple of weeks ago and, as Canon Law requires, I offered my resignation to Pope Francis.  In the next few months the Holy Father will accept it, and Philadelphia will have a new archbishop.

Philadelphia is a great city, and it’s been one of the great privileges in my life to serve as the pastor of its Catholic people and clergy.  So my feelings are understandably mixed.  The good news about turning 75 — the very good news — is that I’ll finally be able to retire.  The not so good news is what sooner or later comes after it.  When you get to be my age, a topic like “things worth dying for” has some special urgency.  As one of my Domer friends likes to point out, dying is a downer.

Or that’s one way of looking at it.  My own feelings are rather different.  My dad was a mortician in a small Kansas town.  So in my family, death and all of the complex emotions that surround it, were a natural part of living.  To put it another way: The meaning of a sentence becomes clear when we put a period at the end of it.  The same applies to life.  When we talk about things worth dying for, we’re really talking about the things worth living for; the things that give life meaning.  Thinking a little about our mortality puts the world in perspective.  It helps us see what matters, and also the foolishness of grasping at things that finally don’t matter. Your hearse, as my father might say, won’t have a luggage rack.

Socrates is often seen as the founder of the Western ethical tradition, and he said that his philosophizing was best understood as a preparation for dying.  It sounds like an odd claim, but it makes perfect sense.  He had a passion for truth-telling; the wisdom that comes from it; and the life of integrity and moral character that results.  The very word, “philosophy,” captures the spirit of his love for truth. It combines philia, the love of friendship, with sophia, which means wisdom. Socrates didn’t “study” wisdom.  He pursued it as the goal and framework of his life.  He loved it.

Love is demanding. It draws us outside ourselves.  The greater the love, the greater our willingness to sacrifice.  So when we know, honestly, what we’re willing to sacrifice for, even to die for, we’re able to see the true nature of our loves.  And that will tell us who we really are. Continue reading

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by Susan Dugary

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

I know a sure path to heaven: to be grateful to God for all things big and small, to appreciate who you are in His love and what a gift you could be for others for the love of Jesus.

 

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by Father Cioppi

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Paul VI once wrote that ‘if you want peace, work for justice.’

There is so much violence in our world and on all levels of life. What can we do to begin building a world for peace?

We need to work justly among our friends and enemies. We should begin by looking at what we ourselves. Gossip is, in the scripture, related to murder. Word violence against people ravishes their humanity, even unknowingly. Traffic violence is another way to increase injustice in the world. Making people suffer because we are anxious or afraid. Our bad mood is not someone else’s fault.

As citizens, we can also work for justice by being considerate of one another. Tolerance has become a misunderstood word. It is not silent opposition to other thoughts or opinions. Being tolerant calls us to dialogue openly in charity so we can reach God, the source of all Truth, together.

As citizens, we have a lot of violence to talk about, euthanasia, birth control, abortion, pre-emptive war, embryonic cloning, so much to talk about. But we will never be able to achieve true peace on earth if we just sit here and agree with each other about how to achieve it. We must get up, go out and actually do things differently than we did them yesterday.

We are obligated as Catholics to work in nonviolent ways for justice that begins to establish an authentic peace for ourselves and for our children. Charity, prayer, sacraments, forgiveness, compassion, these are tools for justice, the fruit of which is genuine peace.

Peace be with you!

 

 

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by Father Cioppi

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel clarifies for us that the Christian way is of action not mere words; of performance, not mere promise. The rich man does not understand that because the Word was made flesh he is now obliged not to just say he believes but to live like he believes.

When we proclaim the Cross of Jesus as the sign that we are His followers, we accept in obedience, His Will as a path to conformation. “He must increase, I must decrease.”

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by Father Cioppi

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Gospel confronts us with forgiveness. But how can we accept forgiveness or even forgive others unless we first are able to receive it, to actually hear the words: “I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; unless we hear “your sins are forgiven, go in peace?”

Jesus articulates the full dimension of His love by applying it to our own practice of forgiveness. Whenever we forgive from the heart we build a bridge on our way to heaven.

Each of us are sinners. The only way we can truly live God’s Will is to actually forgive those who sin against us. It sounds so easy and yet we find it so difficult because of our lack of faith.

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by Father Cioppi

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The wisdom writer asks a question long on the human mind, “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” We can spend our whole life pondering God but unless we pick up our plough and labor in the Lord’s vineyard, we will achieve nothing of significance.

Teresa of Calcutta, suffered for 50 years, believing that God had abandoned her, yet she gave the world a way to hope and be joyful in giving. John Neumann left his native Bavaria because no one needed his priestly service, he traveled from New York, to Buffalo, through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and back to Baltimore on horseback so people could hear Mass. Teresa and John labored heroically to give the world the dignity and respect all human beings deserve and the Sacraments they so richly seek.

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by Father Cioppi

Happy Labor Day!

Daily Mass

will be celebrated

at 9:00 AM

on Monday

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by Susan Dugary

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Two elder monks were sitting outside their cave when a student approached them. He asked how could he overcome his fear about what people think of him.

The one elder said, when I was young, I worried about what people would think of me. It was my pride and lack of wisdom that fed my fears. I kept telling myself I don’t care what people think of me.

The other elder said, it is true when I was young my use of humility was weak, but as I got older I realized no one ever thought of me. So I stopped worrying about it.

The question we need to ask ourselves is what keeps me from being myself? What makes me think the mask is better than the reality?

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by Father Cioppi

Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is a story of a very successful woman who was about to die. She quickly wrote out a will and contributed most of her wealth to the Church and to charities.

When she got to heaven, an angel escorted her pass wonderful mansions and great houses, down expansive boulevards and dignified avenues. She noticed of course that she was passing these places. Finally, they turned down a very small alley and came upon a little cottage. The angel opened the door, and with a smile said welcome madam, we have prepared a place for you.

The woman was filled with indignation, counted the many millions she had left in her will to lists of charities and to the Church. The angel smiled and said but we have built this house on the gifts you have given God through your life.

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by Father Cioppi

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

There was a cartoon years ago called ‘Calvin and Hobbes,’ about a precocious little boy, Calvin and his playmate, a talking tiger. One day the Hobbes, the tiger, finds Calvin sitting under a sign that reads, ‘kick in the butt for one dollar.’

Hobbes asks, “How’s business?” Calvin replies, ‘Awful! And I don’t know why, because so many people need a good kick in the butt!’ Jesus finds Himself in a similar situation then and now. Spiritual Sloth can creep up on us every slowing and very powerfully.

John Paul II, in his work, Love and Responsibility, said, “The fact is that attaining or realizing a higher value demands a greater effort of will. So, in order to spare ourselves the effort, to excuse our failure to obtain this value, we minimize its significance, deny it the respect which it deserves, even see it as in some way evil, even though objectivity requires us to recognize that it is good. Resentment possesses as you see the distinctive characteristics of the cardinal sin called sloth. St Thomas defines sloth (acedia) as ‘a sadness arising from the fact that the good is difficult’.”

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by Father Cioppi